When her job in the energy industry was eliminated due to downsizing, Mallory deGolian created a new, thriving career in Georgia’s film and television production industry as a food stylist.
“My family was confused at first, but now they can see how happy I am and that I’m doing even better than when I worked in the oil industry,” says Mallory, an Atlanta native with a master’s degree in economics. “I’ve created a career for myself, with enough work that I’ve hired a team to help me.”
When her corporate job ended, Mallory took a job at The Cook’s Warehouse. When visiting cookbook authors appeared on local TV programs, Mallory prepared the food, assisted food stylists on set and formed relationships that turned into opportunities on local productions.
The food on camera is an edible prop and Mallory, who is a trained chef, designs food to fit the scene and prepares it for set. She makes sure the food looks the part and stays edible for the actors while shooting a scene, which can take up to 12 hours.
The director may have an idea for how the food should look but for unusual situations, Mallory creates several options before the day of shooting, compiling a collection from which the director can choose.
“It’s fantastic to see so many people make real careers in the Georgia film industry, buy homes and make a good living,” says Mallory. “I hope Georgia continues to be a place where the industry can thrive — so many good jobs depend on it.”
The movie “Passengers,” is set 800 years in the future and the food is made by robots. Mallory created several geometric-shaped options that looked straight out of “The Jetsons.” For Netflix’s “Thunder Force,” Mallory had to come up with a way for Melissa McCarthy’s character to eat raw chicken. The result was so incredibly realistic — and horrifying when her character gobbled it down — that the prop was added to additional scenes. The secret? Mallory dehydrated an Asian pear, then rehydrated it with water and food coloring to match the color of raw chicken. It had the weight, look and floppiness of raw chicken and could sit around for hours.
In 2016, Mallory started employing a team of chefs, stylists, and a logistics team to fulfill demand as the number of productions in Georgia skyrocketed. In 2018 and 2019, Mallory worked on several shows at once with large scenes that required a well-rounded team of food stylists.
“So many restaurant workers earn a low wage, I feel privileged that I can offer a good, living wage,” says Mallory. “It feels wonderful to be able to spread the wealth and hire other people.”